Friday night lights: Eclipse, full moon, comet team up to put on a show
Got big plans for Friday night? That’s OK, we don’t either.
Guess we’ll all have to make do by watching the celestial show that will take place that night.
First, there will be a full moon. That’s always fun, but this one will be a little more special. It’s known as a “snow moon.” The name comes from the fact that the heaviest snows usually fall during February, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
But if that’s not special enough, there’s also an eclipse that night. It’ll be a penumbral lunar eclipse, meaning it’s a partial eclipse that leaves sections of the moon darkened by the Earth’s shadow. No, it won’t be as spectacular as those “blood moon” eclipses. It’ll be subtler. The level of darkness reached during the eclipse may or may not be apparent; it just depends on where you are when you view it.
In North America, the eclipse begins at 2:34 p.m. PT and ends at 6:53 PT, according to astronomy website EarthSky. The eclipse will be at its height around 4:44 p.m. PT.
Here comes a comet
If that’s still not enough, let’s throw in a comet to the night’s festivities.
Comet 45P (it has a much longer name, but we won’t burden you with it here) is visible as it flies by Earth. The comet will get within 7.4 million miles of the planet as it makes its closest approach this weekend, according to Universe Today.
Comet 45P will be the most visible a couple of hours after the eclipse, so look to the skies again about 12 a.m. PT Saturday and find the greenish-blue light with a tail.
And don’t forget, a total big-time solar eclipse will streak across the United States on August 21.